Longhaired brooding rocker, Kurt Vile, headlined a sold out show at Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night. Hailing from Philadelphia, he had his backing band, The Violators, in tow. 

The three guitarists on stage, Vile included, created fuzz and treble heavy indie rock while the drums drove the songs forward. This lack of bass was no problem as Vile’s deep drawl proved thick enough to fill a venue much bigger than Lee’s Palace.

He performed with an air of cool detachment, taking cues from various Gen X slacker icons and bringing the style of apathy to a new generation of fans. At one point guitarist Jesse Trbovich, aka Jesse Turbo, fondly reminisced, “last time we were here was with J. Mascis and Dinosaur Jr.,” before trailing off and diving right back into another feedback soaked number.

Vile’s newest album, 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo, displays a newfound studio refinement. The songs have sparse arrangements and while his stoned Americana is still intact, the music is more accessible and tuneful in its approach.

His live show, however, more closely approximates the impenetrable electric sound of his earlier work. A highlight from the show was the psychedelic blowout that closed his formal set. The song, “Freak Train” from his 2009 album, Childish Prodigy, saw Vile raising his voice to a crackling scream while Turbo wailed on a saxophone.

“Baby’s Arms” was one song off the new album that Vile performed with an acoustic guitar while the drummer used two maracas as sticks. This allowed him to put his finger picking skills under the spotlight. The song shows a softer side to Vile’s songwriting, although his attitude prevents it from spilling into sentimental territory.

The show was loud and intense, designed more for listeners and head bangers than for dancers. In all, while the songs on the new album are much more curt, the live performance remains truly Vile (in the best sense of the word).

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